To eliminate all barriers for people who are blind or visually impaired.
Our Mission Statement
To provide opportunities for employment and personal development for people who are blind or visually impaired to achieve greater independence.
Our Core Values
Build strong relationships and work collaboratively with customers, suppliers, the community and our associates.
Achieve excellence by continually providing opportunities for the organization, encouraging empowerment and teamwork of associates, and providing a positive work environment.
Demonstrate respect for all.
Encouraging open communications through working in a transparent manner to foster and encourage new perspectives and ideas and also to provide information throughout IOB.
Act with integrity. We will, at all times, behave in an ethical and trustworthy manner guided by our values, beliefs and mission.
Be responsible and accountable. We will take ownership for our actions and be fiscally accountable to ensure long-term viability.
The folks who make up Industries of the Blind are glad to be here. It’s not just because of our mission or that productive work is fulfilling. It’s also because we all participate in deciding how this organization is run. We are a unified organization that makes decisions together, as more of a family because what binds us is more than just a job. It’s our mission and our independence.
While the business operates with defined plans based on our strategy, we regularly get together to discuss operations and suggest improvements. We all know that the open exchange of ideas leads to continual improvement. That’s the foundation a good relationship is built on and we’re in it for the long run.
We’re proud to be part of this incredible mission and continued growth. Limitations are far and few when you put the right people together with the right drive. We enjoy watching people grow into their potential and help others do the same. One hand helping another never disappoints.
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Layers of History
- 1933 – Times were tough for just about everybody in 1933—perhaps the worst year of the depression. It was in that year that the first work program in North Carolina was organized for people who are blind. It was known as the Guilford County Association for the Blind. The Association was composed of six people; they made mops in a leased storefront.
- 1938 – The National Industries for the Blind was incorporated in 1938 as a result of the Wagner-O’Day Act, legislation that established a federal market for the purchase of products manufactured by organizations employing people with severe vision disabilities.
- 1943 – During World War II we employed 35 people that were blind, all of whom enjoyed group benefits. The first portion of our building on Lee Street was constructed around this time.
- 1962 – A few decades later, in 1962, IOB, Inc. entered into its first one million dollar contract. Along with the growth of work opportunities came additions, improvements and renovations to our building.
- 1965 – The story of the pen began in 1965 when the General Services Administration (GSA) wrote a 16-page federal specifications document for a retractable ballpoint pen with a replaceable ink cartridge. After receiving a shipment of 13 million defective ballpoint pens from the original supplier in 1967, then-GSA Commissioner Heinz Abersfeller sought a new supplier and offered NIB the opportunity to produce the pens.
- 1968 – On April 20, 1968, the SKILCRAFT U.S. Government Pen was added to the federal procurement list, making it available to federal purchasers through the AbilityOne® Program.
- 1971 – The Javits–Wagner–O’Day Act expanded the law, requiring specified supplies and services come from nonprofit agencies employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities. The Act was passed by the 92nd United States Congress in 1971.
- 1983 – 50th Anniversary of Industries of the Blind
- 1990 – This was the start of IOB’s first distribution center contract. The contract was for lamps/lighting and is still active today. This period also introduced us to the hardware/software package called the Talkman (video on Youtube).
- 2000 – IOB secures a distribution contract for springs, which is still active today. This is also the year that the Vista Gel Pen line was first rolled out.
- 2006 – AbilityOne becomes the new name of the Javits-Wagner O’Day Program as determined by congress. In order for a company to be eligible for the program, 75% of the total direct labor hours must be performed by people who are blind or have other severe disabilities.
- 2009 – IOB leadership and the team introduced new manufacturing methods and equipment that dramatically boosted output while reducing errors. The improved performance resulted in strong growth which in turn allowed the organization to employ over 200 people. IOB now routinely performs manufacturing and distribution for a variety of national companies, as well as various departments of the U. S. Government.
- 2010 – IOB picks up a new distribution contract for wire, chain, rope, and cables.
- 2013 – IOB celebrated our 80th year of providing rewarding work for people who are blind, and quality products to all kinds of organizations.
- 2017 – Joshua Gould is appointed the new president of Industries of the Blind and together with a broad team including board members, IOB management, and IOB production staff collaborate on an IOB strategic plan to evolve the growth of IOB’s Mission and business.
- 2019 – The planning and building of the coffee shop begins.
- 2020 – IOB, while ensuring the safety of its team, operates during the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, IOB successfully competes for a contract to produce masks for the US Army. At a time when we all faced pandemic and economic challenges, our strengths shone through; we did not fold, we did not let the challenges stop us from our mission. Instead, we now find ourselves seeking more employees. Together we are stronger and together we remain.
The Javits–Wagner–O’Day Act 41 U.S.C. § 46 et seq. is a U.S. federal law requiring that all federal agencies purchase specified supplies and services from nonprofit agencies employing persons who are blind or have other significant disabilities. The Act was passed by the 92nd United States Congress in 1971, as an updated form from the original Wagner O’Day Act passed in 1938.
The act is named after its sponsor, Senator Jacob K. Javits, and the Wagner–O’Day Act, passed by the 75th United States Congress in 1938, which had been named after Senator Robert F. Wagner and Congresswoman Caroline O’Day.
To participate in this program, non-profit businesses like Industries of the Blind assure that at least 75% of the direct labor used in the business is performed by people who are blind.
Operating as the Ability One Commission, the federal agency charged with administering the program is currently known as the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled. It replaced the Committee on Purchases of Blind Made Products established by the 1938 act. The agency decides which commodities and services the government should purchase under the Javits Wagner O’Day Act. The program it oversees, known for over three decades as the Javits Wagner O’Day Program, was renamed “AbilityOne” by Congress in 2006. The Committee is composed of fifteen Presidentially-appointed members, eleven of whom represent governmental agencies (Department of Agriculture, Air Force, Army, Commerce, Defense, Education, Justice, United States Department of Labor, Navy and Veterans Affairs, and the General Services Administration). The remaining four members are private citizens knowledgeable about the employment problems of people who are blind or have other severe disabilities, including those employed by nonprofit agencies affiliated with the AbilityOne Program.
The Committee has designated two central nonprofit associations (CNA’s) to assist with the program implementation and execution: the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and SourceAmerica. More than 600 NPAs associated with either NIB or SourceAmerica produce products and services under the AbilityOne Program. The core criteria for NPA eligibility is that 75% of total direct labor hours must be performed by people who are blind or have other significant disabilities. The AbilityOne Program is the largest employment resource for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities, helping to employ more than 45,000 people.
National Industries for the Blind
NIB’s mission is to enhance the personal and economic independence of people who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining, and improving employment. NIB is the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind, and through its network of associated nonprofit agencies, is the largest employer of people who are blind in the country. We create opportunities for people who are blind to become wage earners and taxpayers, reducing their reliance on government support and increasing engagement with their communities.
NIB connects its associated agencies with manufacturing and service delivery opportunities with the federal government and commercial companies. Our customers get the business solutions that they need, and people who are blind are employed—it’s a win-win. We offer career training, which is crucial to getting Americans who are blind employed and keeping them employed. Today, thousands of people who are blind are using these skills in state-of-the-art manufacturing and professional services careers.
NIB’s impact is made possible through the sale of SKILCRAFT® products and services produced and delivered by people who are blind. SKILCRAFT is a registered trademark owned and licensed by NIB. The SKILCRAFT line includes thousands of offerings — from office supplies and hardware to knowledge-based professional services — that meet or exceed exacting government standards, including the rigorous requirements of the U.S. military.
Facts About NIB
- Nearly 100 associated nonprofit agencies located across the country
- 150+ Base Supply Center stores on military installations and federal government facilities
- 7,000+ different products, including 3,500+ SKILCRAFT products
Fiscal Year 2019 Key Statistics:
- Employed 5,982 people who are blind
- Created 311 new job opportunities for people who are blind
- Paid more than $126 million in wages and benefits for employees who are blind
- Paid an average hourly wage of $12.28 to people who are blind
- Offered rehabilitative services to 109,172 people who are blind nationwide
- Employed 600 veterans, including veterans who are blind
Download our corporate brochure to learn more about NIB.
Click here to learn about NIB’s storied history and impact since its establishment in 1938.
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Meet the Leadership Team
Joshua Gould, President & CEO
Joshua Gould, President and CEO of Industries of the Blind, has been with IOB since 2017 and has been thrilled to be part of an amazing team and a company with such an incredible Mission. Every day, Joshua is inspired by the tremendous work done at IOB and by the associates and their stories. Joshua has an extensive background and proven record in leadership, business development, and lean manufacturing in successive roles at Danaher Corp, AAMCO, and Emerson as well as through his prior consulting work. At IOB, Joshua’s focus remains on growing IOB’s Mission, empowering its associates, and building the culture to ensure long-term personal and professional growth for all. With the dedication and support of the entire team, IOB has been able to increase employment of people who are blind, deliver improved business results, and continue to build a positive, collaborative work environment.
Richard Oliver, Director of Community Outreach & Government Relations
A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Richard Oliver’s career at Industries of the Blind began in 1995. Birth defects in both eyes, followed by two retinal detachments within a six-year period led to the loss of vision in one eye and diminished sight in the other. He has been legally blind for 30 years.
Richard is a 1988 graduate of Greensboro College and completed Business Management Training through the Darden School of Business in 2007. He began work at Industries of the Blind in 1995 as a material handler, advancing to positions in Accounting, IT, Sales/Marketing, Product Development, Manager of Operations, Director of Sales, Marketing & Business Development, before accepting his current position as Director of Community Outreach and Government Relations.
As his roles within IOB expanded, Richard was drawn into more public relations and public policy situations. Over the last eight years, he has traveled to Capitol Hill to speak to Congress and staff about issues relating to the AbilityOne Program and the JWOD Act and the need for inclusion of people with disabilities into the mainstream of non-government business. Along with regular speaking engagements for local clubs, organizations, and college classes, he has also served as Chairperson on the Board for the NC Commission for the Blind, and the State Rehabilitation Commission, and served on the Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities,
and is currently serving on the Higher Education Accreditation committee with the Association for Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Susan Williams, Director of Human Resources
Susan Williams has worked in the field of Human Resources since 2002 after receiving her MS. in Human Resources, Business and Industry. She has been with the Industries of the Blind since 2016.
She is passionate about empowering and supporting others by identifying, encouraging and harnessing the unique abilities, skills and gifts that reside within every employee.
She focuses on helping individuals identify and overcome obstacles that get in the way of their success.
John Richtarik, Director of Manufacturing, Engineering & Quality
John Richtarik has been with IOB since 2018. Totally embracing the Mission of IOB, John feels that for the first time in his career he has been given the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the lives of individuals rather than merely focusing on profitability and return on investment to stockholders. John has an extensive background in engineering, project management, lean manufacturing, and plant/manufacturing management. His experience in manufacturing covers a wide breadth of industries including; textile, electronic, medical, pharmaceutical and defense. John’s focus at IOB is twofold; to provide meaningful employment to the blind and visually impaired, and generate a profit while assisting in the growth of the business, thus helping to create a secure, long term future for IOB.
Victor Martin, Director of Finance
Victor joined IOB in July 2019 after having worked as CFO for various private companies for over 20 years. Victor directs and oversees the company’s financial and IT functions. After working several years in the private sector, he loves working for a non-profit and working to provide opportunities in support of our mission while keeping the company’s financials strong. Victor and his wife Theresa live in Asheboro and have three grown sons, Josh, Nick and Dan.
Dean Watts, Distribution Center & Purchasing Manager
Dean developed his background in management through a variety of opportunities in restaurants, manufacturing, distribution and logistics. He grew up and graduated locally, in North Carolina. Throughout his childhood and youth he kept close relationships within the blind and visually impaired community. Some of Dean’s involvement included volunteer work with Beep Ball and bowling, as well as familial ties.
Dean came to IOB in 2015 when he learned there was a need for a manager at IOB’s Distribution Center. He takes great pride in the accomplishments that have been made through working collaboratively with the IOB team.
Today he continues to manage the Distribution Center as well as the Purchasing Department. He also takes great pride in being asked to serve on the Leadership Team and Safety Committee as well as assisting in finding and procuring new business opportunities for IOB. Dean and IOB look forward to a long future of growth with each other.
Board of Directors & Officers
Mark Nelson ~ Chairperson
Jason Strange ~ 1st Vice-Chairperson
Anne Tinker ~ 2nd Vice-Chairperson
Chris Oakman ~ Secretary
Irish Thurston ~ Treasurer
Bill Craft ~ Director
Mark Gaylord ~ Director
Rick Gilmore ~ Director
Brad Huffstetler ~ Director
Dr. Maria Johnson ~ Director
Stephen Oneyear ~ Director
Mac Sims ~ Director
Lisa Strama ~ Director
Elizabeth Troutman ~ Director
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What Visual Impairment DOESN’T Mean to Us
We’ve all heard it so many time; “You can’t do that.” Here at the Industries of the Blind we like to stay away from that kind of negative mindset and talk.
What Visual Impairment DOES Mean to Us
Types of Visual Impairment
There are broad spectrums of eye conditions which can lead to vision impairment, many resulting in blindness and permanent vision loss. This page describes some of the common types of vision loss and outlines the definition of vision impairment.
Definition of vision loss
Vision impairment is defined as the limitation of actions and functions of the visual system, which places the individual in a position which inhibits their ability to function in the standard manner to that of other human beings.
The U.S. National Eye Institute defines low vision as “a visual impairment not correctable by standard glasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery that interferes with the ability to perform activities of daily living.”
Types of vision loss
According to the the World Health Organization:
- Visual acuity is the measure of how well the eyes can see objects from a set distance.
- For example, 6/60 describes the ability to see objects only at a distance of six meters, while a normal eye can see the same object at 60 metres.
- Normal visual acuity is 6/6 (20/20 in the imperial measure of feet).
- The World Health Organization defines blindness as a visual acuity of less than 20/200.
Common Eye Conditions
Infographic Of Common Eye Conditions
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative condition affecting central vision. Reading and crossing roads safely may be difficult. Early detection can slow down progression of the disease and improve treatment outcomes.
Cataract is a clouding of the lens, resulting in blurry vision and faded colours. This leads to glare-sensitivity and increases the risk of trips and falls. Cataracts are usually safely treated by surgery. A cataract is a cloudiness that forms in the lens of the eye – the part that allows a focused image to be transmitted onto the retina. This cloudiness creates blurring, affecting both near and distance vision. Cataracts generally result from the ageing process, though they can also develop from other causes such as congenital disability (from birth) or trauma to the eye. Cataracts due to ageing usually develop slowly and affect both eyes at different rates.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the fine nerves connecting the eye to the brain. Glaucoma can result in tunnel vision and even total blindness. Early detection is vital.
Diabetic Retinopathy is caused by diabetes and result in increasingly blurred, patchy and fluctuating vision. Regular eye checks are crucial to reducing acuity.
Neurological Vision Impairment (NVI) can result from an acquired brain injury. Glasses may not improve vision. Homonymous Hemanopia is a common type of NVI.
These conditions can involve loss of central vision or side vision or indeed the whole field of vision. Sometimes people can see both in front and to the sides but their vision is blurry. Other people may see well in daylight but experience great difficulty indoors or at night.
It is important to understand that different people are affected in different ways by their changing vision. Vision impairment can have an impact on a person’s functioning in their home, workplace, school, and so on.
No matter what the vision impairment, there are a range of services and mobility aids that can provide assistance for someone that has problems getting around safely and independently.
Guide Dogs provide advice and training in orientation and mobility, enabling people with vision impairment to move around safely and confidently. As well as guide dogs, their broad range of mobility services includes training with mobility aids such as canes, low vision aids or electronic devices.
For more information on these conditions click here:
- Age-related Macular Degeneration
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Retinitis Pigmentosa
- Neurological Vision Impairment
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Connect with Us
We want to hear from YOU!
We would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and ideas. We are hear to answer your questions; whether it be pertaining to employment or a fundraising activity. You can call or email us anytime.
Industries of the Blind, Inc.
920 West Gate City Blvd.
Greensboro, North Carolina 27403
Hours of Operation
Monday – Friday
7:30 am – 4:00 pm